June 21, 2005
While many other counties struggle to find Fire and EMS volunteers, Albemarle County moved forward tonight with a group of members. Volunteers are hard to come by in many walks of life, but for local Fire departments, the need is great. Tonight, some of those demands were met.
They received diplomas and shook hands just like any other graduation. But this was a ceremony of a different kind.
"To accomplish something like this means a whole lot to not just me, but to my family," said graduate Erik Graziano
Albemarle County graduated 60 new members to its volunteer Fire and EMS squads. The department is a combined effort between volunteers and career personnel. These new members will join a team of over 400 current volunteers and 50 career members.
"We are real proud here tonight to graduate over 60 people in this class. We believe these 60 people are now going to be in a position to provide a level of service to our community and keep that level of service high," said Chief J. Dan Eggelston.
The graduates spent over 120 hours both in the classroom and out in the field. All of them say that while the classes prepared them for the rigors of being a first responder, it takes a special person to be a volunteer.
"Wanting to help. Wanting to serve. You have to have it in here. It is not just something that you want to go out and do," said graduate Tina Bukoskey.
"They do it out of community sense. They do it because they feel like they are giving back to the community in which they live. I think that makes a great combination," said Chief Eggelston.
But while everyone has different reasons for volunteering, they all shared a sense of accomplishment.
"To get my firefighter one as a junior member it is a real big accomplishment and I am very happy," said graduate Christopher Winfield.
"I have accomplished my dream," said Bukoskey.
The graduation today was a combination of Fire Fighter 1 and 2 classes and an EMT class. If you are interested in taking either of the classes they are both being offered again in the fall.